Living in a world of instant gratification, we are all guilty of choosing convenience over our values. Looking the other way instead of reprimanding unethical behaviours. Especially when it comes to our shopping needs. But life post-Covid 19 has brought a wave of changes in our lives including what we eat, where we travel and most importantly, how we shop.
Fast-fashion is addictive. It’s hard to give up brands which sell trendy, in vogue outfits for a steal deal. Being an ardent fashion enthusiast with a diploma in visual merchandising, I was still oblivious to the atrocities committed by my favourite brands. I didn't pay attention when my preferred clothing brand Zara changed tags from ‘Made in France’ to ‘Made in Bangladesh’. I believed the vague sustainability claims of H&M.
But when I dug deep into the environmental impacts of the fast-fashion industry, I realised I was carelessly helping in increasing the market demand of un-ethical fashion and I should, in this day and age, realise my power as a paying customer that can influence market demands.
The more I read about these fast-growing, fast-fashion brands, the lesser I felt like being associated with them. As mentioned in an article on BusinessInsider, the production of fast-fashion is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply. To produce one t-shirt around 2,700 litres of water is consumed. Similarly, it takes up to 10,000 litres of water to produce single denim. Now imagine the environmental impact of producing a million pairs of these jeans and t-shirts for consumption around the world.
Textile dyeing is another crucial and most polluting aspect of this industry. The demand for new colours and style every month means more chemicals and dyes are used in water to create specific colour tones. The cheapest way for the factories to get rid of unusable, chemical-laden water is to dump it in the nearby rivers. Recently, Hindustan Times reported how the textile finishing dye from the nearby industries has turned the Ulhas river the shade of turquoise. The river provides drinking water to 3 million people on Badlapur-Thane belt. This is happening to multiple rivers in Asian countries. The locals in the neighbourhood who have no choice but to use this contaminated water for drinking or other essential purposes often develop an increased risk of cancer, acute illness and skin problems.
Excessive supply in the market also means the older goods end up at landfills. More than 60 per cent of fabric fibres are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels. So, when the clothes end up in landfills it can take up to 200 years for them to decompose.
On top of that, the fast-fashion industry is notorious for setting-up their factories in poor countries where environmental regulation is lax and there is a huge pool of cheap labour.
The list of problems with the fast-fashion industry is endless. But what can we do about it?
It’s about time to bring a sustainable change to our lifestyle.
The good news is that in 2020 it is possible to stay stylish, trendy, enjoy high-quality goods while reducing your carbon footprint and being gentler to our planet.
Here are 6 things ways to reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Shop second-hand clothes, books, home decor, furniture e.t.c. Organise books, accessories, clothing swap with friends and make it a fun event.
2. Invest in high-quality products that are designed to last longer and can be worn in multiple styles.
3. Support local, sustainable brands.
4. Instead of buying new furniture, find ways to upcycle existing furniture.
6. Learn to upcycle and DIY your own outfits.
To help make the transition easier, we at Urban Sage are organising a large collection of secondhand clothing, bags, accessories, home decor, books and more. Check out our 100 per cent upcycled fashion and secondhand collection available for sale on the website.
If you’d like to sell your preloved items of clothing or any other gently-used items, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also reduce your carbon footprint by switching to a plant-based diet. Read our blog about 4 Ways Plant-based diets can Prevent Future Pandemics.